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Am J Physiol. 1999 Dec;277(6):H2158-66. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.1999.277.6.H2158.

A hemodynamic analysis of coronary capillary blood flow based on anatomic and distensibility data.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0412, USA.


An understanding of cardiac health and disease requires knowledge of the various factors that control coronary capillary blood flow. An analysis of coronary capillary blood flow based on a complete set of actual data on the capillary anatomy and elasticity does not exist. Previously, a complete set of data on the branching pattern and the vascular geometry of the pig coronary capillary network were obtained in our laboratory. In the present study, we obtained distensibility data on the coronary capillary blood vessels on the epicardial surface in the form of a pressure-diameter relationship using intravital microscopy. A mathematical model of the coronary capillary blood flow was then constructed on the basis of measured anatomic and elasticity data of the coronary capillary network, rheology of blood, physical laws governing blood flow, and appropriate boundary conditions. The constructed model was used to examine the heterogeneity of the spatial distribution of coronary blood flow, which is an important issue in coronary physiology. One interesting result of the model is that the dispersions of pressure and flow are significantly reduced in the presence of capillary cross-connections, and the resistance to flow is reduced as well. Finally, we found that the compliance of the epicardial surface capillary vessels is so small that its effect on the blood pressure drop is negligible in the diastolic state. However, the compliance of the intramyocardial capillaries remains unknown, and the interaction of the muscle contraction and blood vessel elasticity in systole remains to be studied.

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